The WhatsApp Business Platform has become a vital communication channel for businesses to engage and help their customers, offering a variety of message types from transactional notifications to surveys and promotional campaigns.
In 2023, WhatsApp is introducing updates to its business model, which includes changes to conversation categories, templates, and pricing. This blog outlines all the upcoming changes and what you can expect as a business From June 1, 2023.
In the new situation (from June 1, 2023) businesses can have two types of conversations with their customers, contacts or followers:
The business-initiated conversations can be divided into three categories: marketing conversations, utility conversations and authentication conversations. A user initiated conversation always belongs to the service conversation category.
Conversation categories also play an important role when it comes to using WhatsApp templates. When creating new templates, WhatsApp asks you to label your template to one of the four conversations types mentioned above. You can read more about WhatsApp templates here.
WhatsApp uses the categories to determine the goal of the conversation. Also the pricing per category is different, which means that a company pays more for a marketing conversation than for an authentication conversation (reasoning that a marketing conversation is more valuable to a business).
The marketing category includes all types of conversations and templates businesses use to market their products or services to customers, such as offering relevant deals to customers who have opted in. WhatsApp also assigns every other business-initiated conversation that doesn’t qualify as an authentication- or utility template to the marketing category.
The utility category includes all types of conversations and templates related to transactions. Think of updates around orders, notifications and recurring billing statements to customers who have opted in to receive these messages via WhatsApp.
The authentication category includes all types of conversations and templates used to enable businesses to authenticate users with one-time passcodes at various stages of the login process, such as account registration, account recovery, and integrity challenges.
Note that the conversation categories above are primarily used by businesses to proactively connect (business-initiated) with their customers. There is one category exclusively used for user-initiated conversations: the service category.
This category encompasses any conversation initiated by the user, such as customer inquiries.
WhatsApp also added some changes for the different conversation windows. Every conversation category has its own conversation window. This means that if – for example – a marketing conversation has started, businesses have 24-hours to have a conversation with the contact before they have to pay for a new conversation. This will be billed – as mentioned above – billed based on the conversation type.
The difference between both windows is that the 24-hour customer care window can only start when the customer, or contacts sends in the first message (user-initiated). If a business sends in the first message (business-initiated) the conversation window starts. For example, if a contact requests a password (2 factor authentication) an authentication conversation is started and billed accordingly. In this example the first message of the conversion is sent by the business.
From that moment all messages sent by the business are free within the 24-hour conversation window. So, if the contact requests a new password within the same 24-hours, the conversation will not be billed again. Note that if the business sends a message that is labelled for another conversation category (e.g. marketing or utility) that conversation will be billed separately and is not part of the 24-hour conversation window. Only messages part of the same conversation type are free for 24-hours.
Effective June 1, 2023, Meta will introduce new pricing for marketing, utility, and authentication conversations. The rates for marketing conversations will be higher than the rates for utility conversations, which will be lower in comparison (due to their value). Authentication rates will be lower than utility rates. The rates for service conversations will remain the same as the current rates for user-initiated conversations. The prices will vary depending on the geographical area.
You can find Meta’s updated WhatsApp prices here.
Yes, the 24-hour response window still applies to most situations on WhatsApp. However, there is now an exception: if customers initiate a conversation with a business through a free entry point, such as by clicking on a WhatsApp ad or CTA from a Facebook page ad, then companies have an extended period of three days (72 hours) to respond.
If a business sends a new message template of the same conversation category within the 24-hour window, there will be no extra charges. However, if a company delivers two different types of templates, two separate conversations will be opened and charged separately based on the message category.
It’s worth noting that businesses won’t be charged if they receive a message from a user but don’t respond. Charges will only apply once the first business reply to a user message is delivered.
For free entry point conversations, previously Click to WhatsApp and Call to Action (CTA) on Facebook Page ads initiated a referral conversation that was free for 24-hours.
As of March 1, 2023, businesses now have up to 72 hours (three days) to engage with customers without any fees.
Starting June 1, 2023, businesses can send messages associated with marketing, utility, authentication, and service conversations, and no fees will be charged during this 72-hour session.
For free tier conversations, Meta currently offers up to 1,000 free conversations for each WABA per month, which can be either business-initiated or user-initiated. However, starting June 1, 2023, this limit will change to providing only up to 1,000 free service conversations per WABA per month, which means that only user-initiated conversations will count towards this limit. The 1,000 free conversations are separate from any free conversations resulting from click-to-WhatsApp ads or CTAs on Facebook pages.
WhatsApp is implementing these changes to align their conversation pricing with the value of messages sent through the platform. With its multimedia features and potential for re-engagement, WhatsApp messages have a higher level of engagement compared to regular text messages. Therefore, to better reflect this value, Meta is adjusting the pricing structure by increasing the rates for marketing messages and lowering the cost for utility messages.